Friday, May 31, 2019

Lean Quote: Be a Visionary Leader

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see." — Leroy Eimes

Effective leaders are known for being “visionaries”. They are comfortable exploring the unknown, thinking of what the future will become rather than being content with things they see now or be troubled about things in the past.

Visionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness. They present a challenge that calls forth the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. They work with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose. Their eyes are on the horizon, not just on the near at hand. 

The best visionary leaders move energy to a higher level by offering a clear vision of what is possible. They inspire people to be better than they already are and help them identify with what Lincoln called “the angels of their better nature.”  This was the power of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The creative power of lighted, inspired words can sound a certain inner note that people recognize and respond to.  This then creates dramatic social change.

Visionary leaders have a knack for inspiring others to action in order to create a better future and solve problems in new ways. Their leadership style creates excitement, positive momentum and longevity in an organization. People enjoy working for visionary leaders who truly want them to reach their full potential and find meaning in their work.

Cultivate your characteristics of being a visionary leader. It will help you to become an excellent leader and it will also inspire your team to work towards success.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lean Roundup #120 – May 2019



A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of May, 2019.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Akio Toyoda Gets Real – Jon Miller shares some highlights from Akio Toyoda’s New Year message which embodies the basics of Lean.

How Soft Skills Impair Problem-Solving – Bob Emiliani explains why those with good social skills may be poor problem solvers.

Lean, Leadership & Ethics, Part 1 – Pascal Dennis reflects on the relationship of leadership and ethics on Lean.

Ask These 4 Questions During Your Next Coaching Call – Ron Pereira shares four, specific, questions when asked at the right time and with the right intention are extremely value added.

The Problem of Profit as a Purpose – Kevin Meyer explains why profit should be a byproduct of doing the company’s purpose not their primary purpose.

An Introduction to Kaizen – Jon Miller shares a ten-point summary of kaizen principles that not only are the way we improve but the way we should do everything.

Lessons Learned as a Kata Coach – Steve Kane explains what the coach’s role is and how he had it all wrong before.

The 4Cs of Building Trust [Lessons From the Road] – Jamie Flichbaugh shares the systems he uses to build trust-based cultures.

How PBCs (Process Behavior Charts) Can Enhance the Practice of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) – Mark Graban goes into detail about Process Behavior Charts (PBCs) and how they can be incorporated into the practice of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in healthcare or any setting.

Stop Asking Your Leaders to "Support" Your Lean Transformation – Lisa Yerian shares key ways that have been found to help lean leaders with shared work tied to broad improvement goals.

Sometimes Less Lean is Mo' Lean - Brent Wahba reflected on some lean principles embodied after seeing a great concert by blues legend Keb' Mo'.


Ask Art: What Incentives and Bonus Programs Best Support Lean? – Art Byrne advises that bonus and incentive plans work best when they boost teamwork, learning, and strategic lean goals.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Remembering Fallen Heros


Memorial Day is more than just a day off from work or school, an excellent occasion for a backyard barbeque, parade or a chance to travel. Those things do speak to the holiday’s true spirit. But above all else, Memorial Day honors Americans who have died in service to their country. This holiday is not only for somber reflection, however. We instead choose to celebrate by enjoying the many freedoms that American servicemen and women have perished protecting.

As opposed to Veterans Day, which honors living veterans, Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died while in military service. The holiday originally started as Decoration Day, where the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers and flags. At the first ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 5,000 people participated in decorating the graves of fallen soldiers from the Civil War. It wasn’t until after World War I, when the holiday changed from recognizing Civil War soldiers to honoring all dead military. In 1971, Congress declared the last Monday in May Memorial Day, a national holiday.

Memorial Day is a day of reflection and remembrance. It is a day to remember all of our Fallen Heroes from all of the wars. It is a day to think about the families that will forever grieve for their lost loved one. It is a day to be thankful to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. They fought and died to win the freedom and democracy that we Americans cherish so dearly. They also fought and died to bring that same freedom and democracy to the people of other countries as well.

In the words of Thomas Sherlock, Arlington National Cemetery Historian, “the most important thing parents can tell their children is that we, as Americans, are able to enjoy the freedoms we do because there have been men and women willing to sacrifice their lives so that we can be free.  We should all stop and remember this on Memorial Day.”

 The true meaning is to remember and honor veterans of all wars and peacetime service who paid the ultimate price to keep America free. They will long be remembered in our hearts.

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Take a moment this Memorial Day to remember all those men and women who have so bravely and honorably served this country. The courage and sacrifice of all who died in military service will not be forgotten.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Lean Quote: Learning Styles

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand." — Confucius

Scientists and psychologists have developed a number of different models to understand the different ways that people learn best. And this quote says different methods of learning have different effectivenesses.

“I hear and I know" - something you just hear someone say is informing but unlikely to stick in your brain.

“I see and I remember" - if you see something explained visually, in a chart or diagram for example, it will stick a bit better.

"I do and I understand" - if you actually go through something yourself and write it out again, or do the experiment, or use the equipment, you will not only remember it, but you will understand the theory behind it too.

Studies show that varying your learning methods will improve your retention and recall of information and enhance your learning experience.

If you are an auditory learner, you learn by hearing and listening. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. You often learn by reading out loud because you have to hear it or speak it in order to know it.

If you are a visual learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head, and you learn best by using methods that are primarily visual. You like to see what you are learning.

If you are a tactile learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a "hands-on" learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn, and you tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. You need to be active and take frequent breaks, you often speak with your hands and with gestures, and you may have difficulty sitting still.

The key to subject mastery is teaching it to others. If you're able to accurately and correctly teach a subject to others, you'll have a very good mastery of the concepts, and superior retention and recall.


The effectiveness of any learning method will also be influenced by your own unique learning style. Some retain and recall information best through visual learning, while others are auditory  learners. To maximize the effectiveness of your understanding discover your learning style.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #139 (#2296 - #2310)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.


Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:


Lean Tip #2296 – Make Consistent Eye Contact When Listening
Learning how to listen isn’t just about what you say to others. Body language also has a major role to play.

Although it’s off-putting if you stare at your interlocutor and refuse to blink until they’ve stopped speaking, it is important to hold their gaze at least most of the time. It is an encouraging way to communicate interest, understanding, and focus.

Be sure to tailor your eye contact to the needs of others, too. If you’re dealing with someone anxious, cut back on direct stares and focus on other active listening skills that are less confronting to shy people.

Lean Tip #2297 – Ask Open Questions To Engage In Conversation
Closed questions are one that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, while open questions are designed to promote longer, more thoughtful responses.

When you ask closed questions it can seem like you just want to get specific information from the other person. Or, that you only have limited time for them. On the other hand, open questions show your desire to engage in a proper discussion and your interest in getting into the speaker’s mindset.

Lean Tip #2298 – Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Whether you agree with the speaker or even have an interest in what they have to say, what they are saying is important to them. Imagine yourself in their situation, wanting only to have someone listen to them. When they are speaking, make an effort to think of where they are coming from and why. Imagine what their life is like and what struggles they might be facing. People will appreciate that you made the effort to understand and really hear them.

Lean Tip #2299 – Listen to the Entire Message Without Judging or Refuting
Suppress the urge to let biases and prejudices prevent you from listening fully.  We can only do one thing effectively at a time: listen, judge, or respond.  Go in that order.  You have to begin with listening to the entire message, then you can weigh your thoughts against what has been said, and finally respond.  Allow each role to run its course in turn.  When you are the listener, you cannot simultaneously be the judge.  Our minds do not work in categories quite so neatly, but when we make this effort to suppress or postpone our desire to make premature judgments we become better listeners.

Lean Tip #2300 – Be Respectful, Listen 75%, Speak 25% of the Time.
This is a powerful tip unless you are giving a speech. Try to allow the other person to speak more than you and listen to them. Let them know you take their views and ideas seriously. Be willing to communicate with others at their level of understanding and attitude by adjusting your tone of voice, the rate of speech and choice of words to show that you are empathetic and trying to imagine being where they are at the moment.

Lean Tip #2301 – Leaders Establish an Impeccable Standard of Excellence.
Set high expectations at the outset and raise the bar on any crucial factors. The best way to establish a standard is by modeling the expected behavior yourself. Showcase excellence. When your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you and the bottom line, don't dabble in mediocrity. Reflecting excellence is critical to exercising effective leadership. This is ground zero for establishing influence.

Lean Tip #2302 – Value People and Nurture Relationships. 
Top-notch people skills are vital to sound leadership. Develop premium listening, communication and decision-making skill sets. Demonstrate integrity by being open, honest and fair.

Your transparency will reap clear rewards. If you treat people well, most will be encouraged to return the favor. By elevating the importance of people and relationships, you enhance your ability to relate to others in an authentic and meaningful way.

Lean Tip #2303 – Listen to your Team Members.
Your team is your most valuable asset, and ignoring their brilliance is a huge mistake. Model to your team what it looks like to care: ask them questions, try to understand, and encourage an open door policy. You’ll receive far more than you give, and model healthy dialogue.

Lean Tip #2304 – Value Your Employees
Appreciating the contribution of other people in an organization helps strengthen the relationship between the leader and the followers. The leader should exhibit good communication and listening skills such that no employees will feel inferior to other persons within the organization. Also, the leader should be honest, fair, and open to discussions that touch on the welfare of the employee. Valuing the contribution of employees in the organization enhances the leader’s ability to interact with people in a meaningful way.

Lean Tip #2305 – Praise Improvement, Even Minor Improvements.
Psychologists discovered long ago that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, people are far more likely to repeat that behavior. Most people want to do the right thing, which means you will find far more success in leading a team if you focus on using positive reinforcement rather than negative actions like threats and fear tactics.

Lean Tip #2306 – Conduct Meetings Only When They Are Productive
One of the things that can really worsen the relationship between the management and the employees is non-productive, untimely and overly frequent meetings.

Meetings are great even if your employees don’t like them a bit. However, the one thing that must always be constant in all meetings is “time is money”. Make your meetings productive and conduct them only when there is a real need. If an issue is minor, but needs some stern mentioning, keep the meeting short.

Lean Tip #2307 – Make Good Relations with Employees the Top Priority
It is all too natural for new managers to get in that “performance mode”. They want to prove that they deserved the position and start overly focusing productivity and performance. While these are great aspects of a manager, they are not the first things you focus on. Your top priority should be to have happy relations with your employees.

How can you make people work when they are not happy to work under you? Not to mention, they can never be impressively productive unless they are working happily.

Lean Tip #2308 – Always Appreciate and Recognize
When there is no appreciation and recognition at an organization, self-motivation can become a fairy tale.

You can’t expect people to keep on doing a great job without getting recognized for their work. When people don’t receive recognition for their work, they come to your workplace just to “do their job”.

Your appreciation, recognition and the practice of rewarding them for their efforts can change their mentality, and convince them to go the extra mile.

Lean Tip #2309 – Make the Team Feel Safe.
Management and leadership are different disciplines.You cannot manage a team into combat. They must be led. It is hard to think that anyone would feel safe in a combat situation. It is all about trust and loyalty. When you trust the leadership and the team members to your right, left and rear, you have an overwhelming sense of comfort. When bullets start flying, politics go out the window. You are fighting to protect your teammates and nothing more.

Lean Tip #2310 – Don’t Criticize or Complain About People.

The surest way to demotivate people is to constantly criticize them or complain about them. If they make a mistake, put it in perspective with the things they constantly do well. Accentuate the positive and utilize mistakes as opportunities for continued improvement.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

10 Years Blogging! Happy Anniversary A Lean Journey Blog


I can't even believe it, but May 19th marked ten years I've been blogging. TEN YEARS! That is crazy. I had no idea then what I was getting into or that I'd still be doing this 10 years later.  Frankly, I wasn't sure anyone would read what I wrote never mind find value in it. It truly has been a wonderful experience and full of opportunities.

So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years is that blogging is about connections. The thing is, it didn’t really take me 10 years to grasp this. In fact, I blogged about that from the beginning. This labor of love has been a tremendous learning process both from the great fans and other colleagues online that I exchange with and from the process of distilling my own learning with you. I've been fortunate to meet so many great people from experts to layman (like myself) along the way who've taught me so much.

If you’re not blogging to connect with people, you’re not doing it right.

After 10 years I'd like to think this simple blog has been a success. It has been a valued contribution in the Lean Community with over a million visitors.  Many articles are frequently shared and many key word searches lead to A Lean Journey Blog. Less then 10% of the blogs I read 10 years ago (which got me started) are still publishing articles. The number of returning visitors has increased every year for the last 5 years. I get great feedback from many of you which motivates me to continue.

Some may be asking how do you define success for a blog?  I think like most publications it is basically about audience.  Are you growing followers? Are people reading your posts? So like in previous years we can look at the number visitors, Facebook fan, tweeps on Twitter, and LinkedIn members as an indication of growth.

I love statistics, so with this milestone, here are some numbers from the blog:

Total Posts: 1773

Most read post:  The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process with over 29,750 views

followed by DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes with over 28,100 views

and by What Do We Mean By True Northwith over 20,700 views

Number of countries/territories who have visited this blog:  226

Top 5 Countries with the most views:
U.S.A. – 48%
United Kingdom – 7%
Canada – 5%
India – 5%
Australia – 3%


Total views:  Over 1,478,361 and climbing

Unique visits: Over 1,172,050

Total comments:  Over 1,500

Total Facebook Fans: Over 2,230

Total Twitter Followers: Over 3,634

LinkedIn Members: Over 1,213

Total Tips Shared: Over 2,310


Top 5 posts this past year:


Five Guidelines on Effective 5 Why Analysis

10 Tips for Being a Better Leader

Think and Lead Like a Coach Not a Boss

Top 10 Lean Leadership Quotes From 2018

5 Ways to Improve Your Kaizens

I would like to thank all the visitors and contributors to A Lean Journey Blog this year and every year.  It has been a successful journey. Please, share your feedback so that A Lean Journey can be even more successful in the future.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Lean Quote: If You Want Passion, Commitment, Dedication, and Motivation, You Go First

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"One of the most important actions, things a leader can do, is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!" — Marshall Goldsmith

Many people define leadership in different ways. I believe that leadership is simply influence. Through your actions, which are aligned with what you say, you become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of effective leadership. Good leaders must lead by example. Here are 10 ways to lead by example:

Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps people on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.

Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.

Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.

Acknowledge failure. Failure is part of the process of becoming extraordinary. When you acknowledge that you have failures from time to time, it becomes OK for others.

Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define you.

Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your for more ideas.

Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.

Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.

Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. Mental and spiritual balance grows success. Model it, encourage it, support it!


Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness.

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